I recently started appreciating city breaks a little bit more. I think it’s the best way to charge your batteries, explore new surroundings for a couple of days and just enjoy the unknown. No hustle and bustle of airports, but just taking a pleasant train ride with some amazing panoramic views through the epic Swiss landscapes. Two weeks ago we headed east and went to St. Gallen, which was a perfect choice for a relaxing city weekend – with its compact, pedestrian-only city center, amazing food and from what I heard – the best coffee in Switzerland. Here’s how we spent two days in St. Gallen- Bodensee.
We took a morning train from Basel to St. Gallen. It takes a bit over two hours, with a change in Zurich. Firstly, we checked- in in our hotel, the Militärkantine, which is just a short walk from town, yet overlooking hills and the green part of the city. It used to be the officers’ quarters around the 1900s and now, being a listed heritage building, is a lovely traditional hotel with a modern twist.
After dropping the bags at the hotel, we went to the city center and took the Mühleggbahn funicular (it was kind of spontaneous, because we were just strolling nearby and were like “hey, let’s see what’s up there”). It’s right behind the Dom, takes three minutes to go to the top and after a short walk uphill, you can enjoy the views over the whole city and even see Lake Konstanz and the German shoreline.
Next stop: drahtseilbähnli for a late Saturday brunch/ early lunch. It was an absolute hit and I really really recommend this restaurant when you visit St. Gallen. The brunch is served in a buffet style and you can find only the highest quality products, coming from small businesses around the region. The atmosphere is super welcoming and the interiors are incredibly warm and cosy. In the summer you can sit outdoor and enjoy the views on the pretty old town.
Full and happy, we started exploring the city with our guide from St. Gallen- Bodensee Tourism. I can easily say that we got the true “Sankt Gallen experience” and when you visit, you should book a guided tour too (it’s just 25 CHF and plenty of information and local tales :)) . We strolled down the narrow stone streets, learned a lot about history and St. Gallen becoming an important hub for culture and education in Europe. The Old Town is charming and the architecture details make it uniquely interesting. I loved the oriel windows that decorate the historic houses (of which each has its own name).
The old town has a serene atmosphere, it’s just nice to wander around and discover the city, which is so different from the ones you already know, but still very Swiss. I was more than excited to just walk on the vivid colorful streets and later sit on one of the bustling squares for a cup of coffee and some people-watching. (as alternative to the coffee break, you can try the famous Olma Bratwurst, that is a pride of St. Gallen. We were told by our tour guide, that you have to eat it without mustard, as it would only ruin its perfect flavour :D. Btw, I also spotted many locals just walking on the street and snacking a Bratwurst on their way, which I have never seen in Basel for example).
There’s a lot of nice boutiques and shopping outlets (that I also got a chance to explore after our guided tour :P).
Later on, we finally visited the Abbey complex. These magnificent buildings are on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list. The Abbey’s Library was on my Swiss bucket list and I was pretty excited to finally cross it off. The Cathedral is one of the prettiest churches I have seen in Switzerland and I could just stare and stare at the beautiful painted ceilings, gilt features and the wooden details.
The library is known to be one of the most perfectly constructed libraries in the world. (It’s also the oldest library in Switzerland) and it’s famous for its old manuscripts and books that tell all about European History. Definitely must see!
The last place we visited on Saturday was Lokremise. It’s an industrial cultural venue, that includes a theater, cinema, exhibition area (that is a second venue of the Kunstmuseum) and restaurant. We started with a quick dinner at the restaurant, visited the current exhibition after and finished at the cinema for a late movie. (Which we didn’t plan, but the entrance to the exhibition was already included in the cinema ticket so, why not? :)). Lokremise in my head is a perfect place for a date. Food, art, movie and lovely company – we had it all. It was a perfect end to the first day of our getaway 🙂
We had some activities planned for Sunday, but weather (rain and strong wind) made it impossible for us so we switched our plans a little bit, spent a lovely morning drinking coffee at our hotel’s cafe, watching pouring rain and later, when it stopped, we went to Rorschach – a beautiful harbor town on Lake Constance. It’s just 15 minutes away by train from St. Gallen and totally worth a visit (especially in summer). I imagined our visit quite differently, having a glass of wine at one of the cool bars facing the lake, taking in the sun and just cherishing the easy Sunday, but due to the bad weather we had to satisfy ourselves with a long walk along the lake (and its endless waters gave us the “wow” impression even with the rain and dark clouds above). I guess I’ll have to come back in summer and visit Badhütte, a historic public bath with access to the lake via stairs (more info and pictures here).
In overall, St. Gallen is a perfect town to spend a relaxing weekend in. It’s not to big, not too small, just a perfect size to enjoy. It also makes a great base for taking trips to nearby attractions, if you want to spend your time actively. (like Wildpark Peter & Paul that we planned to go to or adventures up to Säntis or to the neighbouring Appenzellerland). Well, seems like we’ll have to go back on a sunny weekend. 🙂
This post was prepared in a collaboration with St. Gallen-Bodensee Tourism. All opinions are authentically my own.
One thought on “City break in St. Gallen”
Thank you so much! I lived here 53 Years ago and wads so happy! Greatings for all the Talhof Girls Klasse 2a /1968, with our beloved Teacher Herr Artur Baertsch!